Dear Sophie: Any suggestions for recruiting international tech talent? – TechCrunch

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​​Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

TechCrunch+ members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.


Dear Sophie,

My co-founders and I have an early-stage startup. We’re having a really tough time recruiting engineering talent, but we’re open to hiring internationally.

Any suggestions on strategies and how to help our company stand out?

— Flourishing Founder

Dear Flourishing,

Thanks for reaching out! I recently invited Beth Scheer, head of talent at Homebrew Ventures, for a chat on my podcast. Scheer serves as an adviser to startup founders and executive teams on all things under the talent umbrella. She sees her job as “teaching founders to fish.” She shared her insights on recruiting talent, the importance of diversity and inclusion, and compensation:

“One of the things I say in my first meeting with, let’s say two co-founders,” Scheer said, “is until you raise your [Series] A, you will spend about 40% of your time on recruiting. And they’ll look at me and say, ‘Oh, that’s not so bad, that’s 20% each.’ And I say, ‘No, no, no, that’s 40% each person.’ And that’s when they realize how hard it is, and that’s always been the case no matter what type of [hiring] market. People underestimate how hard it is. And right now, in this market, it’s a lot harder.”

As you’ve discovered, competition, particularly for engineering talent, is extremely intense right now, with job candidates firmly in the driver’s seat. According to an analysis by the National Foundation for American Policy, there were more than 1.2 million unique active job vacancy postings in computer occupations in the United States as of September 6, 2021, up 15% from six months earlier.

A composite image of immigration law attorney Sophie Alcorn in front of a background with a TechCrunch logo.

Image Credits: Joanna Buniak / Sophie Alcorn (opens in a new window)

Moreover, Scheer said the startups she works with are finding that nearly every candidate they make an offer to already has at least three other offers. That means you have to be strategic and deliberate on everything from clearly articulating your value proposition and mission statement to the makeup of your team to the benefits and compensation packages you offer.

As early as possible, early-stage companies need to be intentional about diversity, inclusion and equity whether the company has two male founders or two female founders.